Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

THE LAST LOVE SONG by Tracy Daugherty
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"A dogged biographer elicits from Didion's life much more than tidy observations of 'morality and culture.'"
An eloquent work on the life of Joan Didion (b. 1934), fashioning her story as no less than the rupture of the American narrative. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 17, 2015

"A consistently fine appreciation of the medical maverick who, as much as any other, helped make the Space Age possible."
An author specializing in aviation tells the remarkable, almost-forgotten story of an aerospace pioneer. Read full book review >

BROWSINGS by Michael Dirda
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 15, 2015

"Dirda's comradely essays are unfailingly informative and amusing, punctuated with poignant asides on the aging artist and paeans to great literary scholars. His almost single-minded passion, the exhilaration of a life in literature, glows on every page."
Author and literary journalist Dirda (On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling, 2011, etc.) presents a collection of light, conversational essays drawn from a year of writing on books and book collecting for the American Scholar.Read full book review >
THE FISH LADDER by Katharine Norbury
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A beautifully written book about a journey through wild places in the landscape and the heart."
British writer Norbury's debut memoir takes readers on vigorous walks through lochs, rivers, and soggy marshes in Scotland, England, and Wales. Read full book review >
STREET POISON by Justin Gifford
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"'This is not a story without tragedy….But it is a story of redemption and breathtaking creativity, too,' writes Gifford, who not only tells the story well, but shows why it's so significant."
The first biography of Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim, (1918-1992), builds a compelling case that the pimp-turned-popular author provided the foundation for gangsta rap, Blaxploitation movies, and so much of the underground culture that became mainstream. Read full book review >

ENCHANTED AIR by Margarita Engle
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"As so many of our children are immigrants or children of immigrants, we need more of these stories, especially when they are as beautifully told as this one. (Cold War timeline, author's note) (Poetry/memoir. 10 & up)"
"It really is possible to feel / like two people / at the same time, / when your parents / grandparents / memories / words / come from two / different / worlds." Read full book review >
UNDER ANOTHER SKY by Charlotte Higgins
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"A thoroughly researched, elegantly written history."
Inquiring into the deep sources of British identity. Read full book review >
OUR MAN IN CHARLESTON by Christopher Dickey
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 21, 2015

"A great book explaining the workings of what Dickey calls an erratic, cobbled-together coalition of ferociously independent states. It should be in the library of any student of diplomacy, as well as Civil War buffs."
In this biography of Robert Bunch, the British consul in Charleston, South Carolina, at the beginning of the Civil War, Daily Beast foreign editor Dickey (Securing the City: Inside America's Best Counterterror Force—The NYPD, 2010, etc.) illustrates how an outside observer can understand more about a situation than the parties involved.Read full book review >
ONE MAN AGAINST THE WORLD by Tim Weiner
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 21, 2015

"That project continues, of course, in different hands all these years after Nixon's coverup of a coverup. No one who reads this incisive book will be nostalgic for Nixon, no matter how disastrous his successors."
Sobering, eye-opening study of Richard Nixon's booze-soaked, paranoid White House years and the endless tragedies they wrought. Read full book review >
THE REBEL OF RANGOON by Delphine Schrank
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 14, 2015

"A remarkable chronicle of a multigenerational struggle in Burma bringing about important change."
A dogged journalist penetrates the deeply secretive dissident underground in Burma's police state in this compelling look into a traumatized society in flux. Read full book review >
GENGHIS KHAN by Frank McLynn
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 14, 2015

"Thoroughly researched, grim, grisly, and sometimes even grudgingly admiring."
A prolific historian, biographer, and journalist returns with a sanguinary and thorough account of "the greatest conqueror the world has ever known." Read full book review >
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 8, 2015

"This moving, potent testament might have been titled 'Black Lives Matter.' Or: 'An American Tragedy.'"
The powerful story of a father's past and a son's future. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
September 1, 2015

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is the New York Timesbestselling author of The Language of Flowers; her new novel, We Never Asked for Wings, is about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds. For 14 years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now 15, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life. “Diffenbaugh’s latest confirms her gift for creating shrewd, sympathetic charmers,” our reviewer writes. View video >